Have Courage and Don’t Wait Until it’s Too Late

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I attended a memorial service over the weekend. It was very informal being a casual gathering of friends and family. It had an “open mic” format where, through the course of the evening, anyone could step up to the microphone and offer a few words about the departed. A few family members gave their stories early on and then things waned as an awkward silence set in. Eventually, everyone went back to chatting quietly at their individual tables.

After about 30 minutes, a very tiny, timid and teary-eyed woman approached the microphone. In a quiet, but still very audible voice, she started by saying that she was ashamed to be at the service. She went on to explain that she was the departed’s half-sister. (A few gasps went out indicating this wasn’t a widely known relative.) She had never been a large part of this person’s life but, now that she had heard some of the stories, she was begging to hear more. She encouraged others to come up and say just a few words about her sister so that she could learn more about what she had missed from not being more involved in this person’s life.

I thought two things; what guts that took and how this was a classic “you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone” moment.

We all lost someone over the past week—Maya Angelou. Her insight into courage opened the eyes of many to their full potential.

One isn’t necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential. Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.

I’m sure this woman shows courage in other aspects of her life too but I wonder what kept her from connecting with her sister more deeply when it was something she obviously wanted. I think her initial statement gives a clue. Our fear of rejection and shame often holds us back from pursuing things we want. It isn’t until the need or desire for what we want exceeds the fear that we can pursue our dreams.

If there’s something you’re striving for, whether it’s a personal change or a mended relationship, envision the pleasure of having met your goal and consider the risk of delaying in your pursuit. Put the negative self-talk and the idea of shame aside and have courage. You can succeed but you’ll never know for sure until you try. Don’t wait until it’s too late!

Photo credit: Madame Eleonora / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

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